Greenhouse Canada

Les Exceptionnelles: name says it all for these market pleasers

Quebec consumers and horticulture specialists vote for their garden favourites

July 13, 2017  By Luce Daigneault

July 13, 2017, Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec – Discover Les Exceptionnelles® 2017, a set of annual plants handpicked by the public and a panel of renowned experts for the benefit of home gardeners and horticulture professionals. The ten plants were chosen for their beauty, performance, easy care, and insect and disease resistance.

The 2017 selection offers a great diversity for use in many different situations (specimen plants, companion plants, mass plantings, container gardens and patio pots, and for sunny, partial shade and full shade conditions, and in various colours – purple, lilac, pink, fuchsia, apricot, lemon yellow … and with varied foliage).

There are Exceptionnelles for all tastes! They are easy, high performance plants!


Les Exceptionnelles is a brand name registered by the Fondation en horticulture ornementale of the Saint-Hyacinthe ITA. This is a non-profit organization in charge of managing the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin’s gardening school, with its mandate to promote, support and develop ornamental horticulture knowledge in Québec. Awarded by the public and by experts, this title is given to new horticultural items that stand out thanks to their performance in the garden, their easy care and their resistance to insects and diseases.

This program is also the result of a partnership that brings together the expertise of four great Québec gardens: the Jardin Daniel A. Séguin, the Jardin botanique de Montreal, the Jardin Roger Van den Hende of Laval University and the Jardins de Métis. It is coordinated by the Fédération interdisciplinaire de l’horticulture ornementale du Québec (FIHOQ). Please note: the photos in this feature are courtesy of Claude Vallée, agr. M.Sc. professor of horticulture, ITA-Campus Saint-Hyacinthe.

Alocasia ‘Dark Star’
Height: 1.0 to 1.2 m (3 to 4’)
Spread: 0.75 to 1.0 m (3 to 3.3’)
Full sun and partial sun.
Breeder/Grower: DECO-Style®
For those who love architectural plants, here’s the plant you need. ‘Dark Star’ has beautiful tender green and very glossy giant leaves on strong, purple-violet stems. The light transforms every leaf into a work of art. This exotic plant is perfect for privacy, but not for a long time, because your neighbours will want to see this beauty in your garden for sure! Grow in rich soil or in very large containers.

Begonia Unbelievable™ Lucky Strike 2017
Height: 25 to 35 cm (10 to 14”)
Spread: 45 to 50 cm (18 to 20”)
Full sun and partial sun.
Breeder/Grower: Dümmen Orange
This is an incredibly floriferous boliviensis-type begonia. It is covered with yellow, peach and apricot flowers. It is a compact, bushy and slightly drooping cultivar which received a perfect score throughout the growing season at Jardin Daniel A. Séguin, which is rare for tuberous-type begonias. Grow in sun or part shade, in containers, hanging baskets, patio pots, or in the landscape. A must-have for your garden! 

Canna ‘Ebony Patra’
Height : 1.5 to 2 m (4 to 6’)
Spread : 0.75 to 0.9 m (2.5 to 3’)
Full sun
Breeder/Grower: DECO-Style®
Cannas are increasingly popular in Quebec, as are all plants with dark foliage. ‘Ebony Patra’ fits in well with  contemporary taste. This vigorous, purple sport of Canna ‘Cleopatra’ is a 2016 Exceptionnals®. ‘Ebony Patra’ has flaming red flowers, and beautiful dark brown leaves, slightly shaded with purplish-green. A solid plant with lots of “punch.” Cannas love rich soil, heat and water.

Colocasia esculenta Royal Hawaiian®Aloha Oe
Height: 1.0 to 1.2 m (3 to 4’)
Spread: 0.75 to 0.90 m (2,5 to 3’)
Full sun, partial sun
Breeder/Grower: DECO-Style®
Colocasia Royal Hawaiian® Aloha Oe produces a profusion of shimmering leaves with dark plum and green hues which change with the light. Its foliage is bountiful, flexible and very resistant. Amazingly, this tall tropical plant doesn’t take up that much space, visually spêaking. Grow in rich soil or in very large containers. It does not fear an excess of water and is a good choice for planting alongside water gardens, among other locations.

Gomphrena globosa ‘Ping Pong Purple’
Height: 40 to 60 cm (16 to 24”)
Spread : 20 à 25 cm (8 to 10”)
Full sun
Breeder/Grower: Sakata
This is the third purple gomphena selected in the Exceptionals® program. This plant received the highest score in the popular vote. ‘Ping Pong Purple’ is very different from other cultivars because of its larger size and profuse flowers. Easy to grow and drought resistant once established, this gomphrena makes excellent cut flowers. It is also popular amongst a range of pollinators making it one of the bees’ favourite flowers! Use both in containers and in the ground.

Impatiens SunPatiens® Compact Tropical Rose
Height: 40 to 80 cm (16 to 32”)
Spread : 36 to 60 cm (14 to 24”)
Full sun, partial sun, shade
Breeder/Grower: Sakata
With dark-pink flowers and very distinctive variegated foliage, this impatiens will make your neighbours jealous! Sunpatiens New Guinea impatiens represent a real breakthrough in the world of impatiens. These plants are vigourous, profuse bloomers that tolerate rain, heat, humidity and wind. They will grow in full sun or shade conditions!  Furthermore, Impatiens SunPatiens® Compact Tropical Rose is mildew resistant and is not susceptible to other diseases. This plant will keep growing until the ground freezes. That’s why the breeder developped a more compact series that would fit in smaller spaces, like the Tropical Rose. Grow in containers or in the landscape.

Pelargonium Calliope® ‘Large Pink’

Height : 30 to 35 cm (12 to 14”)
Spread : 45 to 50 cm (18 to 20”)
Full sun, Partial sun
Breeder/Grower: Syngenta
In Greek mythology, Calliope was not only one of the nine daughters of Zeus, but she was the most important among them and exerted her influence over the others. The Calliope® series results from breeding a regular garden geranium with an ivy geranium keeping the best features of both ! Very floriferous and supported by strong stems, Pelargonium Calliope® ‘Large Pink’ is the right choice for hot and dry places. Experts agree to say that this series is one of the best on the market right now. They bloom profusely in full sun, but will also perform in partial sun locations. With its large pink flowers Calliope® ‘Large Pink’ is ideal for hanging baskets, containers and in the landscape.

Stachys Bello Grigio®
Height: 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12”)
Spread: 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16”)
Full sun
Breeder/Grower: DECO-Style®
Children will love this plant also called “rabbit ears” because of its leaves. Very soft to the touch, the very bright silver-gray foliage of this novelty instantly catches the eye. Stachys Bello Grigio® was not sufficiently available on the market in 2016, and had to wait a year before being named as a winner of The Exceptionals® program. The almost white reflections of this woolly plant allow it to accompany both warm colour flowers  (yellow, orange) as well as cold colors (blue, purple). Bello Grigio® adds light to the areas where it is used. Grows best in full sun (even if it does tolerate shade), in containers or in the  landscape. This plant is also weather resistant.

Thunbergia alata ‘Arizona Lemon Sunrise’
Height: 1.5 to 2.5 m (5 to 8’)
Spread: 40 to 60 cm (16 to 24”)
Full sun
Breeder/Grower: DECO-Style®
Thunbergias are voluptuous plants with climbing stems that wrap around all the supports they find. They grow on structures such as trellises, fences, stair railings or any support that is placed at their side. For a natural look, they can also be allowed to climb on small shrubs or trees. This new variety has beautiful lemon-yellow flowers lined with white, highlighted by a dark brown round throat. The stems left on the ground can form a dense flowering ground cover. Grow in containers or in the landscape, this plant enjoys rich soil or periodic feeding. Do not hesitate to invite this plant into your garden!

Verbena bonariensis Meteor Shower™
Height: 50 to 75 cm (20 to 30”)
Spread : 20 to 30 cm (18 to 12”)
Full sun, partial sun
Breeder/Grower: Proven Winners (
This verbena is a constant and abundant source of nectar for pollinators. It is impossible to look at a group of these plants without seeing a multitude of happy visitors coming to gorge themselves on pollen. Meteor Shower™ is more compact, more vigorous and flowers more than other hybrids. It does however retain the aerial aspect that is so characteristic of the species.. Easy to mix with other plants, its light foliage is not an obstacle to light for neighbouring plants. Grows in containers and in the landscape, this is a ‘MUST’ for all those who want to attract the pollinators of their neighbourhood.

Luce Daigneault is FIHOQ executive director. Check and for more information.

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